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2018 Reading Challenge

2018 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 25 books toward her goal of 175 books.
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Book Gift Recommendations that You May Not Have Heard About…

I’ve read a handful of fantastic books lately – I heard about/found them in various and sundry ways, including through my own reviewing, The Bloggess, and random Amazon browsing, and they’re all new to me even if not new to the world, so I thought I’d do my level best to make sure other people knew about them too. They’ll make GREAT gifts – I plan on giving most if not all to my mother-in-law who is the only family member who loves reading almost as much as I do (HOORAY for great in-laws, I’m insanely lucky there, don’t think I don’t know it) – and you’ll be doing your small part to not only share great books but also to promote them…

Jill-Elizabeth’s 2016 Suggestions for Gift Books You May Not Have Heard About (in no particular order)

  • Akata Witch (Nnedi Okorafor) – Oh I’m LOVING this one… I’ve seen it described as a Nigerian Harry Potter – usually when people call something another HP (or any other well-loved character/book), it’s a huge disappointment because it’s merely a spin-off or rip-off of the original idea. Not so here AT ALL. This is a wholly original story, but I can see where someone would make the comparison – it’s another misfit-turns-out-to-be-more-than-she-appears story, with a gloriously imagined other world. The writing is incredible – I have been flying through it. Okorafor’s style is conversational and easy-going but not at all simplistic – there is a fabulous underpinning of mythology, and it’s pretty much entirely new to me since I haven’t read a lot of West African literature/history. There’s a second book due out next year, according to GoodReads, and I can’t wait – I blew through 150 pages of this one in an hour and cannot wait to see what comes next…
  • The Double Game (Dan Fesperman) – I LOVE spy books – old-school, Cold War, spy books… There’s something pure, almost clean, about the battle between good and evil, us and them, that they encapsulate. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, there really isn’t a “them” anymore – the lines between good guys and bad guys are blurry and vague and there isn’t a singular enemy you can point to anymore. With the exception of Terry Hayes’ extraordinary I am Pilgrim, I haven’t enjoyed anything in the spy genre written since the early 1990s – until now. Fesperman is most definitely on my radar now – I stumbled upon his 2012 “The Double Game” at the library and couldn’t put it down… It is an unbelievably engaging old-school spy story, a paean to the classics by le Carre and Graham Greene. The characters and pacing are spot-on, the secrets are thick on the ground, and even
    at 100 pages in I could tell that no one – and no thing – would be what they seemed throughout. It’s an excellent find, and if you like the genre at all, well worth a look!
  • The Q (Beth Brower) – OH MY GOODNESS – I found this one quite by accident, browsing through someone else’s feed on GoodReads and I’m forever in their debt (tragically, I can’t remember whose and can’t seem to find it again). It is, simply, a delightful find. It has a truly original cast of characters and a most marvelous setting – the eponymous Q – and an incredibly sophisticated style that softens all the truly hard edges but leaves a series of intriguingly raspy points to catch your attention and snag your mental sleeves… This is a gorgeously imagined story, beautifully and skillfully written. I’d only seen the author write fantasy before, and honestly it wasn’t to my taste – this one feels like it was written by an altogether different person. I really really hope the author writes more in this vein in the future. If you haven’t seen it, PLEASE pick it up – you won’t be sorry. It’s lovely…
  • The Hundred-Year House (Rebecca Maccai) – “She loved him at breakfast… In the morning he was like a small, clean snowball – one that would roll down hill all day, picking up rocks and darkness and growing enormous and sharp.” What a lovely surprising odd book this was – artists, Marxists, ghosts, mysteries and secrets, oh so many secrets… It unfolds backwards, through a series of time skips that relate the story and the story-behind-the-story from end to beginning. The writing is solid, but it’s the characters that drive this one from start to finish. It’s an unusual book, full of interesting nooks and crannies begging for exploration – much like the eponymous house. Some of the secrets are not all that secretive but a few were delightfully layered, boxes-within-boxes-within-boxes…
  • Witches of Lychford (Paul Cornell) – What an EXTRAORDINARY story – beautiful writing, exceedingly interesting characters, clever plot-line (who HASN’T been convinced – at least momentarily – that superstores are really tools of the devil??)… I stumbled upon the book at the library and am now a huge fan of the author – already working on London Falling and loving that too (very different feel, but also stellar writing/story development). AND there’s a sequel that just came out, which I haven’t picked up yet, so this is a two-fer..
  • The Summer That Melted Everything (Tiffany McDaniel) – I’ve reviewed this one already, so you can read about it here. It’s AMAZING, as is the author, and deserves to be required reading…

Happy Holidays – and Reading!

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